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ICO to step in after schools use facial recognition to speed up lunch queue

facial recognition

ICO to step in after schools use facial recognition to speed up lunch queue

The Information Commissioner’s Office is to intervene over concerns about the use of facial recognition technology on pupils queueing for lunch in school canteens in the UK.

Nine schools in North Ayrshire began taking payments for school lunches this week by scanning the faces of their pupils, according to a report in the Financial Times. More schools are expected to follow.

The ICO, an independent body set up to uphold information rights in the UK, said it would be contacting North Ayrshire council about the move and urged a “less intrusive” approach where possible.

An ICO spokesperson said organisations using facial recognition technology must comply with data protection law before, during and after its use, adding: “Data protection law provides additional protections for children, and organisations need to carefully consider the necessity and proportionality of collecting biometric data before they do so.

“Organisations should consider using a different approach if the same goal can be achieved in a less intrusive manner. We are aware of the introduction, and will be making inquiries with North Ayrshire council.”

The company supplying the technology claimed it was more Covid-secure than other systems, as it was cashless and contactless, and sped up the lunch queue, cutting the time spent on each transaction to five seconds.

Other types of biometric systems, principally fingerprint scanners, have been used in schools in the UK for years, but campaigners say the use of facial recognition technology is unnecessary.

Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, said the campaign group had written to schools using facial recognition systems, setting out their concerns and urging them to stop immediately.

“No child should have to go through border-style identity checks just to get a school meal,” she said. “We are supposed to live in a democracy, not a security state.

“This is highly sensitive, personal data that children should be taught to protect, not to give away on a whim. This biometrics company has refused to disclose who else children’s personal information could be shared with and there are some red flags here for us.”

The technology is being installed in schools in the UK by a company called CRB Cunninghams. David Swanston, its managing director, told the FT: “It’s the fastest way of recognising someone at the till. In a secondary school you have around about a 25-minute period to serve potentially 1,000 pupils. So we need fast throughput at the point of sale.”

Live facial recognition, technology that scans crowds to identify faces, has been challenged by civil rights campaigners because of concerns about consent. CRB Cunninghams said the system being installed in UK schools was different – parents had to give explicit consent and cameras check against encrypted faceprint templates stored on school servers.

A spokesperson for North Ayrshire council said its catering system contracts were coming to a natural end, allowing the introduction of new IT “which makes our service more efficient and enhances the pupil experience using innovative technology”.

They added: “Given the ongoing risks associated with Covid-19, the council is keen to have contactless identification as this provides a safer environment for both pupils and staff. Facial recognition has been assessed as the optimal solution that will meet all our requirements.”

The council said 97% of children or their parents had given consent for the new system.

A Scottish government spokesperson said that local authorities, as data controllers, had a duty to comply with general data protection regulations and that schools must by law adhere to strict guidelines on how they collect, store, record and share personal data.

Hayley Dunn, a business leadership specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There would need to be strict privacy and data protection controls on any companies offering this technology.

“Leaders would also have legitimate concerns about the potential for cyber ransomware attacks and the importance of storing information securely, which they would need reassurances around before implementing any new technology.”

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Woman who masterminded self-kidnap, two others nabbed in Benin

A Benin, Edo State-based woman, Blessing Ogunu, who allegedly masterminded her own kidnap has been arrested by police operatives in the State.

The woman who is now cooling her feet with two other suspects in police custody, was arrested on 23 March, 2024.

The Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, in a statement on Monday in Benin, said the suspect was arrested with two other accomplices, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

According to him, “The Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber Crime Unit received a complaint from one Samuel Prince Omomuzo, of No 102 Ihama Road, GRA, Benin City who reported that one Blessing Ogunu, a staff of Bliss Legacy Limited, Benin City was kidnapped in Benin and the kidnappers demanded for four million, eight hundred thousand naira (N4,800,000.00) ransom.

“The operatives, using technical intelligence, arrested the supposed victim of the kidnap, one Blessing Ogunu, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

“During interrogation, the supposed Blessing Ogunu confessed that she masterminded her self-kidnap because her company refused to allocate land to a customer whom they have received money from.”

Nwanbuzor disclosed that the suspects would soon be charged to court.

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NAF airstrikes eliminate 30 terrorist kingpins, fighters in Borno

The Air component of the Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), has executed a precision airstrike on the hideouts of ISWAP terrorists, killing over 30 of their fighters within Kolleram village along the shores of Lake Chad.

This is contained in a statement by AVM Edward Gabkwet, the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), on Tuesday in Abuja.

Gabkwet said the airstrikes conducted on April 13, were a decisive blow against terrorism in the North-East.

He said the operation yielded significant success as the Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) post-strike conducted revealed the neutralisation of over 30 terrorists.

Gabkwet said that among those neutralised were some senior commanders of the insurgents including Ali Dawud, Bakura Fallujah, and Mallam Ari.

“Additionally, numerous vehicles, motorcycles, and logistical assets were destroyed, severely hampering the terrorists’ operational capabilities.

“Intelligence gathered after the air strike further indicated that the aerial bombardment effectively obliterated a key facility within the Kolleram enclave, which served as a hub for the terrorists’ food processing activities, including grinding machines.

“The success of these airstrikes underscores NAF’s commitment to eradicating terrorism and ensuring the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

“By neutralising key terrorist figures and destroying their logistical infrastructure, the operation has significantly degraded the capabilities of the ISWAP group in the region.

“These airstrikes complement the ongoing efforts of ground forces in the Lake Chad flank and represent a crucial step forward in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria,” he said.

(NAN)

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Francis Okoye arrested in Anambra bound commercial bus with firearms, POS machine

A 22-year-old man, Francis Obinna Okoye, has been arrested by operatives of Edo State Police Command’s Monitoring Unit for alleged possession of firearm.
Also recovered from him was a blue-coloured pos machine.
Okoye who resides at No 26, Jatto Street, Okolo, Lagos State, was arrested on 7 April, 2024.
A statement by the Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said the suspect was apprehended by the  operatives while on stop and search duty along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Ovia river axis.
He was intercepted in a commercial bus loaded with passengers from Lagos state heading to Anambra state.
The suspect allegedly confessed in his statement that one Emma whose surname is unknown, gave him the gun to threaten his uncle, Mr. Paul Okoye, who was alleged to have killed his father with chams.
However, when operatives of the Command took him to Lagos on Monday, 8 April, 2024, to arrest Mr. Paul Okoye, they found out that the suspect lied to the operatives.
“The suspect will soon be process to
court,” the Edo Police Command spokesperson said.
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